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geoffey

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Would like to start a discussion here regarding brewery/beer hype and availability. I've seen a lot of comments about breweries with popular beers that aren't distributed in many areas (Pliny, Heady, etc) with the belief that these breweries purposely don't make as much beer as they otherwise could in order to hype up their beers.

I have some thoughts on this, obviously, but am interested to hear what others on HBT think of this. Do breweries of some popular beers purposely hold back? Do they purposely choose to not distribute their beer beyond one or two states in order to create hype? Or is that just BS and there are other factors involved?

Let's hear it!


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Brewmex41

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Either way, it works for me. I really want to try those hyped up beers. Not sure if its because of the hype, or the reviews on here, rate beer, etc, or what but I'd like to try them.

As long as they arent as nasty as the Rogue Bacon Maple ale. The hype was there for that beer, but not the flavor/quality haha.
 

Mike_kever_kombi

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I think some of it is hype and marketing, but mostly it is probably just good business decisions. If you know what you can make and sustain, then there are only a finite number of places you can distribute to.

You have 2 options at that point. Grow your production capabilities, or to over extend yourself, distribute to more than you can supply, and then deal with the consequences.
 

LandoLincoln

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I think you're nuts if you believe a brewery chooses not to distribute based on the idea that they want to keep their beers very well thought of by a small group of people instead of merely liked by a larger group of people.
 

Calichusetts

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John (The Alchemist) has been very straight forward in saying he is happy where is business is at the moment. Dude worked his entire life to get to where he is...why does he have to go back to being a slave to the brewery? What about family?

Brewer's don't have to expand just because people want them too. It just doesn't work that way. Also, its not as easy as just doubling a tank size here and there. Hop orders can be up to 5 years ahead of time...you would now need to double that. Lots of breweries have growing pains when they upgrade. Some breweries simply don't see the need to take that risk and go through it when they are successful as is.
 

Roadie

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I don't think they hold back production on beers they know they can sell just to create more demand/hype. I do believe however that the limited supply does increase all the hype about the beer(s). I also bet they could sell double the volume of Pliny and Heady but I guess each owner has their own reasons for not building more breweries and/or increasing tank size/capacity.
 

normonster

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I think you're nuts if you believe a brewery chooses not to distribute based on the idea that they want to keep their beers very well thought of by a small group of people instead of merely liked by a larger group of people.

I agree. I saw a quote from Lagunitas the other day that basically said that eventually the craft craz will die down and many over extended breweries will go out of business.

Like a business should, RRB is focusing on the perpetuation of their own existence.
 

Phunhog

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I don't care so much that breweries limit production/distribution of certain beers. That is certainly their prerogative. However they are ultimately the ones to blame for the "black market" that exists for their beers. Regardless of what product is being sold if demand outstrips supply there will be a secondary market.
 

normonster

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I don't care so much that breweries limit production/distribution of certain beers. That is certainly their prerogative. However they are ultimately the ones to blame for the "black market" that exists for their beers. Regardless of what product is being sold if demand outstrips supply there will be a secondary market.

Ahhh....no. Pliny costs like $8 for a bottle and there's no one selling them in the Walmart parking lot at an additional markup.

That excess demand is satisfied by the hundreds of comparable products readily available.
 

Phunhog

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Ahhh....no. Pliny costs like $8 for a bottle and there's no one selling them in the Walmart parking lot at an additional markup.

That excess demand is satisfied by the hundreds of comparable products readily available.
Of course there is a black market....http://www.businessinsider.com/craft-beer-black-market-2013-12

Now you are right that there are hundreds of comparable products that fill the void that are readily available. In fact if PTE or HT were readily available they would instantly lose their mystique. http://www.marketplace.org/topics/business/pliny-elder-case-study-scarcity-marketing
The fact that most people can't get them is the exact reason people want them.
 

normonster

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That is BS my friend. Ppl try to list all kinds of stuff on craigs and eBay (souls are even for sale sometimes) but that doesn't equate to any sizable black market just because journalists need topics. If you want to consider some dip$hit selling a few cases of beer as a full on black market I guess that's cool but I don't. There's no proof in that article that anyone even bought any). When TTB busts an illegal warehouse with 10,000 cases of Heady, then I'll be with you.
 

Talgrath

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You have to remember, most breweries want to expand, but expanding too quickly could mean you get screwed by an economic downturn. Unless the brewery owner is independently wealthy, the brewery is relying on business loans and then paying off said loans to expand; so they take out one loan, pay it off and then work on the next expansion. There are some breweries that stay artificially small, but that isn't to increase hype; the owners don't want to shoulder the additional responsibility of running a larger business, they want to keep brewing rather than sit in meetings all day; the bigger you are the more you have to be concerned with the business side of things and the further you are from the beer.
 

Phunhog

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That is BS my friend. Ppl try to list all kinds of stuff on craigs and eBay (souls are even for sale sometimes) but that doesn't equate to any sizable black market just because journalists need topics. If you want to consider some dip$hit selling a few cases of beer as a full on black market I guess that's cool but I don't. There's no proof in that article that anyone even bought any). When TTB busts an illegal warehouse with 10,000 cases of Heady, then I'll be with you.
Well apparently RR was pretty convinced it was going on via Ebay......http://beerpulse.com/2013/12/demise...t-led-to-meeting-between-ebay-and-regulators/ If it wasn't happening on a regular basis I would hope that RR would have better things to do than patrol Ebay because some guy is selling an extra bottle of RR.
 

duboman

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Keep in mind that some of these breweries have extremely successful taprooms/pubs and there is a lot more profit when your beer simply moves from a bright tank through a tube in the wall and into your patron's glass. Once you bring in packaging and distribution you greatly increase your overhead.

Personally I'm all over making more money on less product then less money on more product:)
 

LandoLincoln

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Well apparently RR was pretty convinced it was going on via Ebay......http://beerpulse.com/2013/12/demise...t-led-to-meeting-between-ebay-and-regulators/ If it wasn't happening on a regular basis I would hope that RR would have better things to do than patrol Ebay because some guy is selling an extra bottle of RR.
I can see why Russian River would want to put a stop to this.

1) Some guy sells an old, poorly stored and poorly shipped bottle of X beer to some guy on eBay for mondo bucks
2) Purchaser drinks beer, tastes awful due to age, storage and shipping methods
3) Purchaser feels like a chump for spending mondo bucks on X beer, goes onto Internet and tells everybody how over-hyped X beer is
4) X beer maker gets bad rap because of stupid eBay sales
 

normonster

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Now we know why geoffy is so pissed at RR....he got a bunk bottle of Pliny off a back alley beer dealer and paid too much for it!!!
 

LandoLincoln

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My friend and I have a rather ingenious plan to deal with Heady Topper not being available in Illinois. He has an 18-wheeler that we drive to Vermont, along with his dog. Inside the trailer is my cool-as-hell black TransAm. We unload the car and load the trailer up with Heady Topper. And then we put the hammer down and head on back to Illinois as fast as that truck will go!

Of course we have to worry about the Smokies along the way, so I drive ahead of him, as a "blocker," to lure out the police cars and then they chase me instead of nailing my friend for speeding and illegal transportation of Heady Topper to Illinois.

This one time I picked up this hottie hitchhiker. Man, she was something else. But that's a tale for another time.
 

normonster

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From IL you'll have to pack some in bags of coffee beans and load mules to travel westward without detection.
 

chemman14

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My friend and I have a rather ingenious plan to deal with Heady Topper not being available in Illinois. He has an 18-wheeler that we drive to Vermont, along with his dog. Inside the trailer is my cool-as-hell black TransAm. We unload the car and load the trailer up with Heady Topper. And then we put the hammer down and head on back to Illinois as fast as that truck will go!

Of course we have to worry about the Smokies along the way, so I drive ahead of him, as a "blocker," to lure out the police cars and then they chase me instead of nailing my friend for speeding and illegal transportation of Heady Topper to Illinois.

This one time I picked up this hottie hitchhiker. Man, she was something else. But that's a tale for another time.
You're my hero :tank::mug::ban:
 

feinbera

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A lot of them probably stay small so they can continue to do what they love, how they want to. While BMC demonstrate that you don't have to sacrifice consistency to scale, and folks like Lagunitas and Dogfish demonstrate that you don't even have to sacrifice brewing interesting beer, you can be sure that Tony Magee and Sam Calagione don't have the time anymore to give their personal attention to every batch of IPA or n-Minute the way Vinnie Cilurzo still can to every batch of Pliny. At a certain point, expansion means brewing more beer and making more business decisions to get all that beer sold, and something's gotta give. I'm not saying Sam and Tony chose wrong by letting go of some of the reins, bringing in help, and growing a bigger business – heck, according to simple capitalism valuing bottom line above all else, they clearly chose right – but if Vinnie, or any other brewer, want to keep their operation small enough that the whole thing can still be held in one person's head, and still keep themselves and their employees paid, hey, it's their job and, really, their life, they can choose however they want.

I'll also throw out there that space, equipment, and staff ain't free. Multiplying your capacity means either taking on an enormous, expensive risk yourself, or becoming beholden to bankers/investors to share some of the risk, at the cost of them caring more about getting their money back than they do about the beer. Sure, you'll never take over the world if you don't think big and risk big – but is an un-taken-over world of craft beer with a zillion unreconciled fiefdoms each cranking out their own unique brews such a horrible fate?
 

mtnagel

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However they are ultimately the ones to blame for the "black market" that exists for their beers.
Why would they do that? They don't get the extra money that someone else sells it for.

As for the original question - I think it's many factors. Some breweries just don't want to expand for whatever reason. And some purposely create hype around certain beers to generate extra revenue. Look at dark lord day and hunahpu day. They could just as easily put those beers in the normal distribution channels, but they choose to have these huge festivals to make more money (among other reasons I'm sure). So the answer is, there is no one answer.
 

Phunhog

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I can see why Russian River would want to put a stop to this.

1) Some guy sells an old, poorly stored and poorly shipped bottle of X beer to some guy on eBay for mondo bucks
2) Purchaser drinks beer, tastes awful due to age, storage and shipping methods
3) Purchaser feels like a chump for spending mondo bucks on X beer, goes onto Internet and tells everybody how over-hyped X beer is
4) X beer maker gets bad rap because of stupid eBay sales
Very true!! But this is what gets me....the exact same scenario can play out when people on BA, HBT, RateBeer, or any other beer site trade beer. There is no guarantee that the beer you receive has been well taken care of....if you get a bad beer you will blame the brewery and they will get a bad rap. Same scenario without the money exchange. So why doesn't RR try to put an end to beer trades? Which are in all likely hood illegal in the first place..
 

warriorcoach

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Sam from Dogfish said they will intentionally not sell over a certain amount of their 60 min. IPA to distributors- I think he said 50%. His reasoning is that he does not want to only be known for that one beer. I think he even used the quote of Sierra Nevada you think of Pale Ale. He said distributors are always asking for more of the 60 min. and they could sell it but he will not supply it to them.


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geoffey

geoffey

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Now we know why geoffy is so pissed at RR....he got a bunk bottle of Pliny off a back alley beer dealer and paid too much for it!!!

Ha ha! No, I'm not pissed off at them at all. Quite the opposite. I appreciate their craft and don't believe they are beholden to anyone to make more beer than they want to make. Unlike others I've heard from on HBT who seem to believe it is their RIGHT to have access to any and all beers they want because certain breweries purposely make LESS of a beer in order to build up the hype.

Now, I'm not denying that marketing via product hype isn't a real and viable strategy (albeit an annoying one), but that doesn't mean Brewers "owe" customers to make as much of a particular beer as they possibly can. Could RR make more Pliny? Of course they could! But at what risk? At what personal investment? What other beers would they have to make LESS of? (Blind Pig?). What would the risk be to QC?

Who are we to determine the risk others should take with their own personal interest just because we don't want to wait in a long line or want to get more than one bottle of a particular beer? F that.

Don't like that a beer is hard to come by??? DONT EVER BUY IT!


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geoffey

geoffey

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The fact that most people can't get them is the exact reason people want them.[/QUOTE said:
I think it's way more than this. The fact that MOST, if not everyone, RAVES about these beers (which indicates something about quality and consistency) is what makes most people want them. The fact they are hard to come by adds to it. But if they weren't already noteworthy beers in the first place it would be a moot point

I could easily put out a rare, hard to get beer within a couple months, but if it's crap beer no one is ever going to talk about it.


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normonster

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I wonder why Mendo Brewing can't pull something like that off with their Talon DIPA. IMO it is even better than Pliny and I bet a lot of people can't get it.
 

johnmac22

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John (The Alchemist) has been very straight forward in saying he is happy where is business is at the moment. Dude worked his entire life to get to where he is...why does he have to go back to being a slave to the brewery? What about family?

Brewer's don't have to expand just because people want them too. It just doesn't work that way. Also, its not as easy as just doubling a tank size here and there. Hop orders can be up to 5 years ahead of time...you would now need to double that. Lots of breweries have growing pains when they upgrade. Some breweries simply don't see the need to take that risk and go through it when they are successful as is.
I agree with both of these things. I know of another brewery who is happy with the size of their brewery.

Also, **In MY experience** some breweries that grow seem to lose the quality of beer that they once produced. I have tasted numerous beers that were once really good and became mediocre once the brewery increased in size. I have no proof of this...just my own experience. But if this does happen on a frequent basis with growth, some brewers might not want to compromise the quality of their beer to grow. Just my thoughts.
 

CJ1

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I wonder why Mendo Brewing can't pull something like that off with their Talon DIPA. IMO it is even better than Pliny and I bet a lot of people can't get it.
I've never heard of it. You might be right that it is better than Pliny (which I have never tried), but that doesn't mean it's going to get the magic of viral organic marketing.

I'm personally not a huge fan of bacon (I prefer a good spicy sausage every time), but bacon has become the "it" food of the last several years, and every cheap restaurant is adding it to all of their foods.
I'm not sure that anyone thinks fast-food grade bacon is good, yet people keep buying it.

Sometimes being incredibly popular is more about being in the right place at the right time than it is about being the best.
 

Devilsnight

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I really wonder how distribution works, what who owns what area has to do with everything. I live in a small town, Grocery store and both gas stations carry the same brands. When the grocery store doubled their craft brew section it was still the same brands, just more flavors if you will. And pretty much all the tags had river city distrubution on the bottom, aka the local bud light distributor.. So if they don't wan't to stock a certain brand on the shelf....
Just a thought no one else seemed to bring up. for example, RR probly isn't going to employ someone in centeral wisconsin to make sure their beer is stocked on the shelf at my grocery store so, I won't ever see it.
 

LandoLincoln

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Very true!! But this is what gets me....the exact same scenario can play out when people on BA, HBT, RateBeer, or any other beer site trade beer. There is no guarantee that the beer you receive has been well taken care of....if you get a bad beer you will blame the brewery and they will get a bad rap. Same scenario without the money exchange. So why doesn't RR try to put an end to beer trades? Which are in all likely hood illegal in the first place..
How are they going to stop a beer trade? Sit at the post office?
 
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geoffey

geoffey

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Someone on another thread suggested that if I believe RR and the Alchemist don't produce more beer because they are concerned about quality going down then I MUST believe Stone, DFH and Lagunitas have bad quality beers.

While I believe that's ridiculous I will say this: the Pliny and Heady I've traded for on this forum (some of which may be old or not kept well in transit, etc) was far and away better than anything I've had from those other three breweries. That doesn't mean I think they make bad quality beer. It means I like the others more.


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normonster

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Someone on another thread suggested that if I believe RR and the Alchemist don't produce more beer because they are concerned about quality going down then I MUST believe Stone, DFH and Lagunitas have bad quality beers.

While I believe that's ridiculous I will say this: the Pliny and Heady I've traded for on this forum (some of which may be old or not kept well in transit, etc) was far and away better than anything I've had from those other three breweries. That doesn't mean I think they make bad quality beer. It means I like the others more.


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If you think Pliny is better than Lagunitas IPA you are tripping man. And there is not a single beer at Russisan that beats a SN Pale Ale.
 

campbellmike

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Price is based on supply and demand. The super high demand beers are sold at a high retail price by the producer. They obviously make much more money for the smaller volume with fewer headaches.

With that said, the guys with big ambition have a better chance of becoming very wealthy. Either by creating a empire or selling their mini empire to an existing one.

A side note: Lagunitas is one of my favorites and I can get it locally. I personally love Three Floyds beer but didn't care for any at Russian River but to each his own. I'm ready to try Heady Topper now.
 
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geoffey

geoffey

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If you think Pliny is better than Lagunitas IPA you are tripping man. And there is not a single beer at Russisan that beats a SN Pale Ale.

Everyone is entitled to to their own opinion. I like Laguanitas ipa. But I LOVE Pliny. I could really care less if I ever have a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, but I also respect the hell out of that brewery. Those two can brew a crapload of good beer. But they aren't in the discussion for best beer in America according to AHA.

So I thing the relationship/balance between quality and hype is pretty interesting.


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Calichusetts

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I'm just surprised this thread wasn't a treatise on Hill Farmstead...
I'm sure it will be. Just wait til their expansion is done and we get the old "its not as good as it used to be" tsunami of comments on here
 

Phunhog

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How are they going to stop a beer trade? Sit at the post office?
They could "try" and go after the websites where people set up trades. As much as we like to think it is ok.....trades are more than likely illegal on a couple different levels. If the breweries are against people selling their beer on the black market because they lose control of the product....well the same thing happens when people trade beer. Here is another article on the black market for beers......http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/19/luxury/black-beer-market-price-gouging/
 

dcHokie

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They could "try" and go after the websites where people set up trades. As much as we like to think it is ok.....trades are more than likely illegal on a couple different levels. If the breweries are against people selling their beer on the black market because they lose control of the product....well the same thing happens when people trade beer. Here is another article on the black market for beers......http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/19/luxury/black-beer-market-price-gouging/
How is trading beer 'more than likely illegal'?
 

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